When Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1 + 2 originally released last year, a Nintendo Switch port of the game not only seemed to make sense but seemed inevitable. To be completely frank, the original version of Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1 + 2 was as close to a perfect game as I think it could be, so having the ability to play it wherever I want is something I’ve wanted for a year now, and one of the ports I’ve wanted most in general (seeing as we’re not getting a Kingdom Hearts collection anytime soon).
Thankfully, my anticipation was warranted because Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1 + 2 makes for a fantastic Switch port that made me feel for the first time like the frame and graphical trade-offs might be worth the portability. There are a few issues that hold it back from being the same perfect experience, but it’s a worthy version of one of 2020’s best titles.
Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1 + 2 is an arcade skater experience that has you performing long combo strings, defying gravity and listening to an incredible soundtrack whilst you try and score as many points as possible and explore maps for secrets and objectives. That’s pretty much all there is to it, but with this remake, you get all of the maps from the first two games, along with some features and mechanics from more recent entries. If you’re expecting something like the realism of Skate, you’re going to be let down, but as someone who only got into the series last year, trust me in saying this is the best urban sports game out there. There’s simply nothing like Tony Hawk’s.
For everyone like myself that’s waiting with bated breath to find out how well the game has been ported over to the Switch, let’s go over that now. Beyond looking less detailed and running at 30 frames per second, this is a fantastic porting job and a game that fits the portable home console perfectly. That lower frame rate would usually be a bigger issue for me, but it’s a stable 30 here and suits the gameplay style well enough that it never got in the way.
As for the graphics, they’re not awful or anything, they’re just a bit washed out and less detailed, but it’s not really an issue when you’re going to find yourself speeding through them and focusing on your moves. The only time it feels like it gets in the way is for seeing some smaller objectives, such as trying to find the no-skating signs in the Downtown level. Those occasions are rare, but it’s annoying when it happens. One of the reasons I had been so excited for this port is because I believed it would function really well even if it suffered a few small hits, and that’s certainly the case here.
One area where the port does slip up a tiny bit is the loading times. They’re usually around three to five seconds longer than they were on the PlayStation 4 version, which already had some pretty long loading times getting into levels. That version of the game had some near-instant restarts when reloading the level, whereas here it’s about five seconds each time. That sounds pretty petty in the grand scheme of things, but when you’re trying to do missions you’ll find yourself reloading quite a lot and watching your face in the Switch screen for a bit too long. It’s not a huge issue, but I wouldn’t have minded some more graphical concessions to speed them up, at least when reloading.
Beyond that, you’ve got all of the content from the original release, and some non-invasive rumble functionality that makes this a really excellent port. As is the case with pretty much every port, it’s a downgrade for sure, but for Tony Hawk’s the trade-off for being able to go portable is worth every little concession.
As fantastic as the port is, the gameplay is really what makes Pro Skater, and it’s just as great here as it’s always been. Rather than being a simulation, Tony Hawk’s is more focused on fast, arcade action. Your skater accelerates by holding down one button, and from there it’s up to you to use your environment and tricks to try and get a massive combo and get as big a score as possible. All of the maps have tons of secrets and little things to interact with, so they’re never as simple as just skating around them looking for ramps, which keeps them entertaining even when you’ve been there a ton of times.
It takes some getting used to at first, but once you’ve mastered grinding and the various flip tricks, you’ll move on to doing manuals to keep combos going and adding in some reverts to look extra fancy. I know the absolute bare minimum about skating, but you really do start to pick it up once you start playing, even if it’s just for the sake of gameplay and not inspiring some secret skateboarding career.
Another element that absolutely needs mentioning is the fantastic soundtrack. It would have been easy for Activision to just put in the original soundtrack, but instead, they’ve chosen to add some brand new modern tracks that fit really well with the classics. It’s the sort of game where you’ll be popping open Spotify every couple of minutes to add a new song to your own playlist.
Those two elements combine to create something that’s honestly a bit meditative at times. Zoning out and letting yourself skate around areas whilst crossing little objectives and challenges off is incredibly rewarding and relaxing in a way that’s hard to describe. Even when you’re trying to get the highest scores, it’s never a stressful or tiring experience. It’s just pure, arcade fun.
Beyond going through the single-player mode and getting all of the objectives, you’ve also got free skate modes to mess around in and several multiplayer modes. There’s a reason I spent so much time with the game when it first originally released, and despite telling myself I wouldn’t, I ended up doing it all over again on the Switch. Going into the review, I hadn’t planned on putting too much extra time into it considering my 30-odd hours with the remake last year, but here I am again getting 100% on both games and free-skating around for no reason. That’s the power of Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1 + 2, it’s just so easy to get sucked into a rhythm with and find yourself playing just that, and I’d argue that’s even more powerful now that it’s completely portable.
Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1 + 2 was practically a perfect game when it launched, and here we’ve got a port that gets everything that worked about it and makes it portable – with only a few small concessions. If you’ve played it before, it’s absolutely worth being able to play it wherever you go, and if you haven’t given them a chance until now then the Nintendo Switch is a fantastic platform to do so.
Version Tested: Nintendo Switch
Review copy provided by Activision